By Richard Abu
Better days are under way for the people in the North East zone as the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and the World Food Programme (WFP) have joined forces to change their lots.
The goal is to help them increase their food production and reduce dependence on food assistance. Using a ‘twin track’ approach, FAO is providing enough seed and fertiliser to produce up to eight months’ worth of food during the 2018 rainy season, while WFP covers the food needs of households until these crucial harvests in September.
In a statement issued on Wednesday on the new initiative by the agencies, they said that in Rann, in Borno State and close to the Cameroonian border, WFP WFP would provide life-saving support to 67,000 people living in the town.
Already, FAO has provided seeds and fertilisers to about a quarter of Rann’s households who have safe access to land and who, through a community-based assessment, proved capable of growing food. This includes families which have sought refuge in Rann as well as the host population.
One of the targeted beneficiaries, Mrs. Fanna Kachella, from Rann, who has eight children, said her family is keen to resume farming.
“Not having anything much to do has been hard for us, we are used to planting our own food. I hope we will get a good harvest from the seed,” she said.
Farmers in Rann and more than 30 other locations can plant maize, sorghum, millet and cowpeas following the distributions. In most places, they also received sesame, groundnuts, sweet pepper and watermelon seed for income generation.
Altogether, FAO and WFP are supporting around 600,000 conflict-affected persons in Borno, Adamawa and Yobe States during the rainy season.
“Families in North East Nigeria have been affected by conflict for nine years, and many have gone through terrible times. We need to work harder and together to put people back on the track of self-reliance, to rebuild their livelihoods and to restore their dignity. This joint assistance by FAO and WFP is a step in that direction,” WFP Representative in Nigeria, Myrta Kaulard, said.
“FAO is assisting both the growing number of farmers who have returned to their villages to resume production, as well as the many still forced to live in camps,” said FAO Representative in Nigeria, Suffyan Koroma.
“In addition to distributing inputs like seed, we are expanding our farmer field school and savings and loans programmes in the region to strengthen both farming skills and access to finance for agri-business development.”
In its 2018 appeal for North East, FAO requested $31.5 million to assist farmers recover from the impact of the conflict. About USD 13.2 million has been received, leaving a gap of $18.3 million.
WFP requires $49 million to continue lifesaving support until the end of 2018 to assist the most food insecure and vulnerable Nigerians.